Charles Powlett, 5th Duke of Bolton was honoured as Queen Charlotte's crown-bearer at King George III's coronation and the Duke also served as the King's Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire. The Powlett family armorials are celebrated in Vardy's design for this pier-suite (lots 54-55) by their motto 'Love Loyalty' being recalled by 'Love's ring', as features on their 'ringed' falcon crest. While the pier glasses and pier tables are richly embellished with scalloped shell badges recalling the triumphal chariot of Venus, goddess of love.
THE EVOLUTION OF THE DESIGN
The evolution of John Vardy's early 1760s design for these window-bay pier glasses, can be traced to his work at Spencer House, London and Holkham Hall, Norfolk in the late 1750s. In 1758 he had proposed a frame pattern for the overmantel paintings in the Holkham saloon, which also featured a shell and beribboned palms issuing from acanthus scrolls. Beribboned palms supported the lantern that he designed for the hall of Spencer House (see J. Cornforth, 'Vardy and Holkham', Country Life, 25 August 1988, p. 141 and A. Coleridge, Chippendale Furniture, London, 1968, fig. 81). Another source for the acanthus-entwined frame derived from the frontispiece and a frame pattern of a 1736 book of ornament entitled Sixty Different Sorts of Ornaments invented by Gaetano Brunetti, Italian Painter. Very Useful to Painters, Sculptors, Stone-carvers, Wood-Carvers, Silversmiths, etc. (E. White, Pictorial Dictionary of British 18th Century Furniture Design, Woodbridge, 1990, p. 322). His fusion of shells and Roman foliage is also indebted to French ornamental engravings such as J. G. Hertel's publication of Jacques de Lajoue's Divers Ornements, circa 1735 and Vivares's publication of William De la Cour's First Book of Ornaments, 1741.
Vardy's ink and wash coloured sketch of 1761 for Lord Bolton's mirrors and accompanying tables included a choice of foliated candle-branches at the sides. It also featured an alternative proposal with additional shells at the bottom corners in place of foliated plumes. (The drawing, preserved in the British Architectural Library, is illustrated in A. Coleridge, Chippendale Furniture, London, 1968, fig. 78).
Beribboned palms form triumphal arches for laurel-festooned 'Bolton' rings held by Roman acanthus emerging from plumed cartouches of foliated-shells. Foliage ties the latter to wavy pediments enriched with antique-flutes and fretted-lambrequins. Acanthus foliage also emerges from Venus-shell badges to twine the sides of the rectangular moulded frames; while leaves emerging from the base corners support the palms and central shell cartouche.
The mirrors have been water gilded twice. In some areas the second gilding, probably early 19th Century, is separated from the first by a thin skim of gesso. The original gilding and the second gilding is identical on both pairs of pier tables (lots 53 and 55) and their mirrors (lots 52 and 54).